February crude oil prices were higher during the overnight and early morning hours, helped by preliminary inventory data that showed a larger than expected weekly draw. Risk appetites and crude oil prices gained an added lift on a well-subscribed long-term refinancing offering (LTRO) by the European Central Bank, designed to boost liquidity for struggling banks. Crude oil prices are up nearly $6.00 from Friday's low to this morning's high, and those gains have come in response to increasing economic recovery hopes, favorable US housing data and easing European debt concerns. The supply side of the equation has also provided support, with supply disruption concerns coming from the Iran sanctioning process and protests and Kazakhstan. Overnight data from China pegged their crude oil supplies falling for the second month in a row in November, down 1.3% on the month.
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